Though this Nikephorus shared his name, this one actually succeeded. Irene decided that she’d had enough of Constantine’s disloyalty and the ordered her men to gouge out his eyes. She born between 750 and 755 CE and was related in some way to the noble Greek Sarantapechos family of Athens. He didn’t say no to marrying Maria, but once he decided that he didn’t like her, he sentenced his mother’s #1 bride to a grim fate. However, like always, their plans failed—and Constantine made them regret it. Born between 750 and 755 into a noble family of Athens, she was chosen to be a bride of Leo IV – the son of Emperor Constantine V. Overnight, this orphan noble girl became a bride of an Heir of Byzantine Emperor. However, Irene’s ascent to Empress wasn’t without complications. He told Irene he’d let her live in her palace if she disclosed the location of the imperial treasure. After trying to oust Irene and Leo, they gave Constantine’s reign a .02g.1o. The only original source that deals at all fully with the reign of the empress Irene is the chronicle of Theophanes. In this uncertain time, contenders began vying for the throne, but in the end, it was the public finance minister, Nikephoros, who deposed Irene. Sadly, Constantine Senior did not live to get to know his grandson too well. My mom never told me how her best friend died. She stepped aside gracefully, hoping she wouldn’t have to face any physical punishment or humiliation. Irene made an ambitious match for her son with Charlemagne’s daughter, Rotrude. Empress Irene was the wife of Leo IV and, on her husband’s death, she reigned as regent for her son Constantine VI from 780 to 790 CE. You see, Irene had good reason to be insecure about her future. Their story ultimately had a heartbreaking end, especially for poor Maria. She was 17, when her father died and siblings were estranged by circumstances. However, because Constantine was just a kid, his mother generously offered to act as his co-regent. Change ). But the happy days didn’t last very long. The Abassids, who we’ve already met, also gave her grief, forcing her to agree to more humiliating terms after their first truce ended. Brace yourself: We’re unveiling the story of Irene’s spectacular rise to power and her chilling fall from grace. Irene’s men captured him and returned him to his furious mother. Here’s the deal: Irene was still holding onto power at this point. ( Log Out /  Since Charlemagne was a powerful king, Irene probably figured that uniting their families would secure her and Constantine’s position as rulers. The answer is more scandalous than you might think. Nuh uh, she had yet another plan up her sleeve. The most scandalous theory is that Irene saw the tide was turning against her. Clearly, Irene had been excited about the match between Rotrude and Constantine. The Emperor Irene Irene of Athens (c. 752 – 803 AD) was Byzantine empress from 797 to 802. Saint Irene was the daughter of a wealthy family from Cappadocia and was born in the ninth century. Theophanes had his strong prejudices, against the iconoclasts and, later, against Irene’s successor, Nicephorus. By this point, Irene’s son (remember, the real emperor) was getting older and craving independence. She retaliated by seizing his family, whom he had left in Constantinople. After three years of accepting his wife’s different beliefs, Leo IV suddenly had a change of heart. Irene probably didn’t think her mama’s boy son would ever completely reject one of her orders. Her son meanwhile was more of a token figurehead. We want our readers to trust us. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. Learn how your comment data is processed. This basically meant that Irene was the de facto ruler of the entire Byzantine Empire. There's something about the family structure that encourages secrets. If this is how Leo and Irene’s meet-ugly went down, it was definitely an unorthodox method for choosing a royal bride. There was just one problem: The threat didn’t exist. Purely by accident, Irene happened to discover her son’s plan. Irene and her supporters were arrested and banished from the palace. Prior to becoming empress regnant, Irene was empress consort from 775 to 780, and empress dowager and regent from 780 to 797. Which feature marks St. Mark's as a Byzantine building: dome on a centralized building 6. Almost immediately after Leo became the head honcho of the Byzantine Empire, he learned that the job had other, let’s say, interested applicants. Factinate is a fact website that is dedicated to finding and sharing fun facts about science, history, animals, films, people, and much more. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. The virtuous Empress Irene spent generously on charities. Oh, and there was also the issue of Irene, y’know, forcing him to dump his girlfriend Rotrude. Her family background is not known. Since Irene didn’t have any siblings, she must have had quite a lonely childhood being shuttled from one house to another. It was all a lie to get the icon-smashers out of town. The couple did have two daughters, but the young emperor clearly didn’t consider them a reason to try and get along with his wife. Best wishes, Pete. Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history. We always hear about the strong men of this empire but seldom anything about the women…..and Irene is one that should be mentioned more….. one child: Constantine VI (January 14, 771 – about 797 or before 805), emperor 780 – 797. Irene īrē´nē , c.750–803, Byzantine empress (797–802). Remember Leo’s half brothers? Some historians think that Irene ended things because she was a classic overbearing mom who didn’t want to share Constantine with anyone else. She felt her enemies needed a loud and clear message, and she chose a bone-chilling way to let them know how she felt. A number of Leo’s own ex-courtiers faced these drastic treatments. Since Irene didn’t have any siblings, she must have had quite a lonely childhood being shuttled from one house to another. Irene came up with the genius idea to send half of army to Asia to defend the empire against the Arabs. Empress Irene of Athens was the first female ruler of the Byzantine Empire. His own half-brothers challenged his reign, forcing Irene and Leo to fight fire with fire. They stood by him and proclaimed him to be the sole ruler of the empire, leaving Irene with no choice but to step down. Officially, Irene may have been a regent for her son the Emperor, but unofficially? She summoned a council, the second council of Nicaea, to reinstate the use and veneration of icons. Empress Irene was the wife of Leo IV and, on her husband’s death, she reigned as regent for her son Constantine VI from 780 to 790 CE. He became more accepting about his wife’s reverence for icons, even though his family had a long history of banning that kind of thing. Our best guess as to how Irene snagged Leo’s hand? When Constantine realized that his mother was about to lash out, he fled the palace, only to realize that he couldn’t go far. Especially unusual is that, while Constantine V was a militant iconoclast who was known for persecuting venerators of icons, Irene herself displayed iconophile predilections. Irene was an iconophile, which means she worshipped holy images, while Constantine V and Leo were totally against sacred pictures. Irene of Athens or Irene the Athenian (Greek: Εἰρήνη ἡ Ἀθηναία; c. 752 – 9 August 803 AD) is the commonly known name of Irene Sarantapechaina (Greek: Εἰρήνη Σαρανταπήχαινα), Byzantine empress regnant from 797 to 802. The blindness and humiliation affected him so badly that he perished soon after the incident. Were all Irene’s outlandish gestures a way to scare off her enemies and hold onto power? Leo’s brother, Nikephoros was the main mastermind of the plan to dethrone Irene. With them gone, Irene replaced them with a force that was more sympathetic to her cause and called another meeting with the Papal delegates. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. No matter her motivation, man oh man, this was a bad idea. If so, she may have been onto something. Spoiler: Irene’s love life would get even weirder as the years went on. Beauty, brains, and an iron will: Irene of Athens used all of these to stay in power in the cut-throat world of the Byzantine Empire. Irene began to realize that he might not be content playing second fiddle for too much longer. During her lacklustre reign, Irene ruthlessly schemed and plotted to keep the throne she would lose and regain three times, but she is chiefly remembered for … All in all, not bad for an Empress Consort, eh? From petty paybacks to insane acts of karma, these bitter people somehow found the most ingenious ways…. Irene had to think a way of bringing him to heel, fast. These dudes just don’t give up—even when they should really just stay home and treasure the organs they have left. She was also known to have initiated the Second Council of Nicea. When Constantine VI discovered I-üs mother's treachery, he left Byzantine emperor in 775. From 797 to 802 CE she ruled as emperor in her own right, the first woman to do so in Byzantine history. In 800, Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III, on Christmas Day. From 797 to 802 CE she ruled as emperor in her own right, the first woman to do so in Byzantine history. Irene was also known for her generous financial policies, which were especially friendly to monasteries. From the get go, Irene and Leo weren’t exactly a match made in heaven. 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